« PreviousContinue »
Creator for his large bounty which we have already experienced, we shall look forward with joyful hope to those unknown scenes in futurity, when we shall serve him more faithfully, and enjoy a clearer and more unbounded prospect of his goodness, which is over all his works, and which endureth for ever and ever!
Unto him be thanks, glory, and praise, for
ever and ever!
O God, blessed and magnified for ever! Who, out of thy boundless ineffable goodness, hast not only called us into existence out of nothing, and placed us in the high order of rational beings, but intendest us to live before thee for ever, if we are not wanting in fulfilling the part required for us for our own happiness :
Assist us, we beseech thee, in forming just sentiments of our proper business here, that we may not entertain the vain dream of living in thoughtless vanity and self-indulgence, which would enfeeble and unfit us for the hard task and severe trials, to which thou seest it proper to put us in this our first proba
probationary state: but that, by learning to restrain and regulate our passions and desires of worldly things, we may be free to give up or to endure any thing which our duty to thee, or the services we owe to others, may. demand of ús.
And as the soft flowery paths of pleasure are more insinuating and more dangerous oft, than open assaults of pain and suffering from unreasonable men ; make us ever on our guard against these secret underminers of our virtuous purposes, which imperceptibly draw us away from the loyalty and obedience we owe to thee and thy sacred laws; that whatever temptations thou sufferest to come upon us, may, through thy gracious aid, be surmounted, and may add to our future crown and happiness at the appearing of Jesus Christ our appointed judge.
We thank thee, O Lord our God, for the various provision thou hast made to bring back the degenerate sons of men to thyself, and their true happiness.
And as thou didst of old send thy servant Elijah to thy people Israel, sunk in idolatry and wickedness; and didst appoint John the Baptist to prepare men, by the preaching of repent
repentance, for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, thy last great prophet and messenger of thy will:
Raise up, we pray thee, other servants and messengers to awaken those who make no use of the knowledge and superior advantages afforded them; and to call the nations that know not thee, to the light of thy truth, that the kingdom of darkness, idolatry, and vice, may at length be destroyed.
Finally, O heavenly Father, let that blessed state and future happiness, which thy goodness proposeth to us, be ever in our sight, to support our weary steps here below, and carry us on in our progress towards it; that we may be enabled to lay in such a foundation of holy habits and virtuous dispositions as may fit us for it, and for whatever work and employment thou, our Maker kind and good, mayest design for us in those blest abodes.
Now unto thee, O Father, c.
November 20, 1785.
1 PETER V. 8, 9.
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist, steadfast in the faith; knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.
As the wrong understanding of this and other similar passages in the New Testament is wont to minister occasion of ill-placed mirth and ridicule to those who show no regard to religion, and is oftentimes the cause of groundless fears and anxieties to sincere minds, I shall endeavour to point out what appears to be the apostle's intent in the language here used concerning the adversary, against whom he would guard the christians to whom he is addressing himself; and shall go on afterwards to consider their trying situation at that period, and the lessons for our own christian conduct which we may derive from it, and from the exhortation here given to them.
It appears from the introduction of the second epistle of Peter, that the two epistles were drawn up at no very great distance from each other, when the apostle was far advanced in life, and near the end of his mortal course.
And the circumstances of heavy persecution, which those to whom he writes are described as labouring under, admirably suit this time, when the Roman emperor, Nero, had begun his cruel proceedings against the followers of Christ, not only at Rome, but in other vinces of the empire.
The preceding chapter is one continual strain of most serious and edifying counsel to them, how to demean themselves, and to be prepared for the sufferings impending over them.
In the passage which is before us, he resumes the subject, but speaks in language which has generally been taken to imply the existence of a great wicked spirit, enemy of God and every thing good, and author of all sin and misery; and this to be the enemy with whom those to whom he writes had to contend.
"Because your adversary, the devil, goeth about like a roaring lion."
This was a notion that speculative minds fell